So You Want to Straighten Your Teeth ...

Invisible teeth straightening aligners Invisible teeth straightening aligners

So You Want
to Straighten
Your Teeth ...

Here’s what you need to know to make the right decision

It started, like so many things over the past year, over Zoom. Constantly looking at myself in my computer monitor, I noticed a few things. First, I talk with my hands way more than I realized. And secondly, I hate my crocked bottom teeth. Maybe it was the “Zoom Dysmorphia,” I'd been hearing about, but it was actually something I'd been considering for a while.

So I decided to use the last few months of social isolation to my advantage and straighten my teeth with clear aligners. After all, at a time when so many of us are relying on meal kits and on-demand workouts via connected equipment, why not have your orthodontia delivered to your door as well?

Of course, I'm not the only one thinking this. These aligners have become increasingly more popular over the past few years. Which is why the market seems suddenly flooded with companies offering to deliver a perfect smile with little to no effort involved. How do they work exactly? According to the American Association of Orthodontists, these 3-D printed aligners are essentially plastic replicas of your teeth. Wearing them puts gentle pressure on the teeth, slowly but effectively repositioning them.

So which one's the best? Some, like AlignerCo, claim to have the lowest prices. Others, like Byte and Candid, promise premium service and speed. You've got to do your homework when it comes to body modification, right? Here's what I found and why I decided to go with the company I did.

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Teeth Straightening Brands

Byte

This seemed to be the one I was hearing about the most. And I can now see why. The company prides itself on providing an easygoing customer experience that includes personalized support and some of the fastest treatment times. They also work with an industry-leading cosmetic dentist to ensure your new smile is proportional to your facial structure. Plus, the company guarantees straight teeth for life and will provide free aligners if your teeth happen to shift after treatment.

Notes

  • They offer an “at-night” plan for a discreet treatment that requires only 10 hours of continuous wear per day.
  • The signature HyperByte device uses high frequency vibrations to help teeth move into place faster and with less discomfort. (Dentists typically charge extra for similar services.)

Cost

$1,895 (or $2,295 for the byte At-Night option) at Byte

Candid

This is another new brand making waves. And it seems tailor-made for those who are a bit more nervous by the process and want some extra assurances. They were one of the first to guarantee orthodontist-overseen treatment. And one of the first to offer virtual check-ins with your orthodontist throughout the process of straightening your teeth.

Notes

  • You'll share scans of your progress with your doctor every 10-14 days to track movement and adjust treatment as needed.
  • The treatment takes a bit longer than other aligners but if you want to visit a physical location to get started, that's available in most major cities.

Cost

$2,400 at Candid

Smile Direct Club

This was one of the first DTC brands to bring the clear aligner treatment to your home and continues to be one of the most popular options. They have over 300 “SmileShops” across the U.S., which you can visit to get your mouth scanned, instead of taking traditional impressions of your teeth. They also have a mobile app that allows patients to monitor their progress and schedule virtual check-ins throughout the treatment plan.

Notes

  • They now offer a nighttime-only treatment plan that only requires you to wear the aligners for 10 hours throughout the night.
  • They don't guarantee an orthodontist's oversight for your treatment and have a mixed track record of customer service, with issues around communication when concerns arise during treatment.

Cost

$1,950 at Smile Direct Club

Invisalign

The OG. They're in more than 100,000 dentist offices in 90 countries and have treated over 8 million patients. One big advantage that Invisalign has over direct-to-consumer brands is that their in-office treatments can offer flexibility based on your progress, such as incorporating attachments (like elastics and expanders). This allows them to treat more crooked or crowded teeth and severe misalignments. But all the office visits are both expensive and time-consuming.

Notes

  • Regular office visits allow dentists to carefully monitor your progress and adjust your treatment as needed.
  • Aligners are customized and trimmed in a scalloped style to fit the gum line for a less conspicuous appearance.

Cost

No set price (average cost is $3,000 to $8,000) at Invisalign

What I Personally Chose

For me, Byte was the clear winner. I wanted the process to be easy, effective and affordable—with the least interference with my daily life. And Byte ticks all of those boxes. They offer the most reliable nighttime option, which means I don't have to wear my aligners in public—or worry about taking them out and putting them back in whenever I want to snack or grab a coffee. My kit came with all the aligners, organized by week, a teeth-whitening foam and the HyperByte device. That technology is especially appealing because the device speeds up the straightening process and reduces discomfort by 64%, according to the company's data. The fact that you can also whiten your teeth while your aligners are in overnight is just a bonus, really.

Why I Trust Them

Dr. Jon Marashi

Dr. Jon Marashi

Dr. Jon Marashi

Dr. Jon Marashi

On top of the convenience and price-point, a big selling point for me was Dr. Jon Marashi's involvement. He's responsible for countless Hollywood smiles and as Byte's Chief Cosmetic Dentist, he's staking his reputation on the brand's ability to craft good looking smiles. Thankfully, because of my job, I got to ask him some questions about what, in his professional opinion, makes a great smile. Surprisingly, it's not about perfection, he says. Rather, it's about finding that perfectly imperfect balance. “There are, of course, the tried and true principles of orthodontics—we need to move the teeth in a certain way for them to function properly—but I've found that there's flexibility in how you approach a smile,” he says. “Just because your teeth are lined up doesn't mean they're in the best position possible for you.”

They developed a process, dubbed “Smile Science,” based on the same practices Dr. Marashi uses with his A-list clientele to determine the right shape and structure to your smile. “It's not just a matter of straightening your teeth; we look at how your lips fall around your teeth, and make adjustments based on that,” he says. “That's why we have our patients send in smiling selfies from all angles—because people don't just look at you straight on.” I really liked the fact that there was thought going into how my finished smile would look on me.

3-D mouth rendering

My personal 3-D mouth rendering, with the before and after (right).

What's more, you get to preview the finished product in 3-D renderings online that you can move around and inspect from every angle. To watch your teeth straighten out in 30 seconds is pretty mind-blowing. Of course, the actual process takes a lot longer, but this shows you exactly what will happen to your teeth over the next few months. It almost seems too good to be true. “That's one of the biggest misconceptions about these aligners,” the doctor tells me. “That it's too good to be true; but every treatment is reviewed by a real, licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure you get the smile you're hoping for.”

My Experience

I'm just getting started, so there will be an update in a few months when I can give you the full experience and results.

More Than Just Vanity

Teeth are made to fit together in a certain way to do a certain job. Crooked teeth, which tend to have more places for plaque to build up, also make for a more challenging daily brushing. Straightening your teeth can actually help reduce your risk of cavities, gum inflammation and gum disease.

(Source: American Association of Orthodontists)

NOTE: Items featured in this story are independently selected by the editorial team. Purchasing via our links may earn Valet. a portion of the sale, which helps fund our editorial mission.

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